Ronald Reagan on Social Security
President of the U.S., 1981-1989; Republican Governor (CA)
On April 20, 1983, Reagan signed a bill to preserve Social Security. At that bill signing, the president said words every Republican should heed:
"This bill demonstrates for all time our nation's ironclad commitment to Social Security. It assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future. From this day forward, they have one pledge that they will get their fair share of benefits when they retire."
President Reagan had it right: Social Security is here to stay. To be sure, we must reform it, root out the fraud, make it more efficient, and ensure that the program is solvent.
This principled bipartisanship was evident even into the 1980s, when the Republican president, Ronald Reagan, and the Democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, would wrangle over profound policy difference and yet come together for important tasks. One such was the bipartisan Greenspan Commission, which, back in 1983, they worked together on to bolster the Social Security system. Indeed, the Gipper and Tip even became friends. After a day of politicking, they were still able to get together after 6 PM, to swap Irish stories over drinks
[After its passage], the Administration, overconfident, tried to restructure Social Security-which was clearly spending itself into bankruptcy-and discovered within days that “the will of the people“ did not extend so far as to mandate cutting the benefits of retirees.
Keynesian economic theory, codified by the social engineers of the 60s and 70s, called for high, progressive tax rates, manipulative government spending, and welfare-state ”entitlements“ centering around Social Security & Medicare/Medicaid. Reaganomics questioned the wisdom of all these tenets, with the exception of Social Security, by now clearly too much of an article of American faith even to be debated.
REAGAN: The social security system was based on a false premise, with regard to how fast the number of workers would increase and how fast the number of retirees would increase. It is actuarially out of balance, and this first became evident about 16 years ago, and some of us were voicing warnings then. Now, it is trillions of dollars out of balance, and the only answer that has come so far is the biggest single tax increase in our Nation's history, the payroll tax increase for social security, which will only put a band-aid on this and postpone the day of reckoning by a few years at most.
CARTER: As long as there's a Democratic President, we will have a strong and viable social security system. Although Gov. Reagan has changed his position lately, on four different occasions he has advocated making social security a voluntary system, which would, in effect, very quickly bankrupt it.
Was Reagan suggesting that the government ought to plow those funds into the stock market? If so, there was proof that he didn't understand the complicated problems that the Social Security system faced. It would be absurd to risk such huge federal sums on the ups and downs of the market.
It was almost too good to be true. When reporters tried to pin him down, Reagan waffled and insisted that he'd never advocated such a step. It was just "one of the things suggested by some of the economists who are talking about this program."
|Other past presidents on Social Security:
|Ronald Reagan on other issues:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)
Past Vice Presidents:
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